I don’t speak often of my work here; like many people, the means by which I secure a paycheck is not fulfilling any childhood dreams or lifelong goals. But I am fortunate in that I do like my job and the people I work with. I am challenged, I am stretched, and I am making positive contributions in my current role. Knowing that God has plans for me as a writer, I am content with my current employment.
The past seven to eight months have been challenging. Workloads have increased and department staffing has decreased. A new product offering launched in July was rushed, creating unanticipated challenges and demands across the organization; we are still reeling from the fallout, eyes widening like deer caught in the headlights as the numbers continue to rise. As a result, I’ve been working 50-60 hour weeks fairly consistently for the past six months at least.
Add to that my efforts to maintain my overall health, experiencing a breakup, attempting to maintain friendships, developing my writing, delving into deep explorations of faith, and you have a recipe for one extremely tired blogger.
Today was one of those days where moments of stillness were achieved only by periodic trips to the restroom. My team was busy preparing our department for a magnificent push of mandatory overtime tomorrow in addition to participating in the requisite meetings (five in all), maintaining daily responsibilities, and ensuring our new-hires were supported appropriately.
Bleh. Bland stuff, I know.
Knowing all the busyness of this week and the weeks that preceded it demanded a deliberate act of relaxation on my part, I went to my favorite coffeeshop after work, ordered a tall soy chai, and planted myself near the fireplace. I opened the book I’ve been toting around with me all week, but have not had a chance to open until this afternoon. I curled my hands around the cup, allowing the moist heat of the drink to seep through the cup and translate its warmth to my hands. I savored my drink, closing my eyes and took pleasure in the mild and unassuming balance of vanilla and cinnamon.
When I returned home, I was faced with a new set of realities and my mind began to reel again. It went something like this:
I see a small pile of my things that have been taking up space in the corner of my dining room for the past few weeks newly deposited at the bottom of the stairs leading up to my bedroom. I suddenly feel that perhaps despite my best efforts not to be a slacker, I am shirking my responsibilities as a housemate, but frankly don’t think I could possibly handle their response if the two who live with me agree with my inkling of guilt. When I get to my bedroom, I am confronted with the laundry basket full of folded laundry that has been sitting there, begging to be put away since last week. I see the clothes I bought over a week ago (also neatly folded), tags still attached and still not put away. I see that my bookshelves are in desperate need of dusting and that I have that huge poinsettia gift bag sitting on my floor, stuffed with remnants of wrapping paper and gift receipts. Clearly, I need to relax. Relax, relax, relax!! I think that maybe taking a bath will do the trick, so I walk into the bathroom and look at the tub. It was six days since I last cleaned it, and odd strands of long curly red hair (whose could they be?) are strewn across the surface of the tub. Who cares, it’s my hair anyway, I reason, so I brave it anyway. I run the water and pour in the pomegranate-scented bubble bath. I light a couple candles, turn off the lights, and slip into a tub full of water that is neither too hot nor too tepid and feel a brief moment of physical and mental release. Perfect! Ah, relaxation! I stretch my hands down the length of my tired shins and calves and realize that it’s been far too long since they had any sort of acquaintance with a razor. Why does that clock tick so loudly? I'm really getting lax in my bathroom cleaning. I start to think about all the witty and insightful comments I’ve read on various blog posts today and wonder why I bothered when my own wit was substandard and my insight on par with a houseplant. I start to think about writing my own post about this dilemma of mine and start to wonder if I really should be including the bit about needing to shave my legs. Is that too much information? How could I describe the perfect chai latte? I really need to go back to yoga. Bubble bath makes a funny sound as it disappears into the tubwater. What will Elyse wear for her picture on Sunday? I hate it when people talk on their cell phones in restroom stalls. Does that sign with the cell phone in the center of that bold red circle/slash mean nothing? I really like the color orange. I wonder what Nathan looks like. I really need a pedicure. But I think green is still my favorite.
And it went downhill from there:
yoga mat digital camera purple shirt havarti cheese frizzy hair seven-up camel pose savasana locust simultaneous charley horses olives red skirt hair do skinny pants kombucha orange shirt Julia Roberts green beans pirates fuzzy socks and do I like the color pink birthday party kleenex wine cork Ireland training wheels evolution Hilary Clinton cute Starbucks crossword guy gym dues StoryCorps dripping faucet spaghetti sauce teapot jet lag sushi Scrabble nail clippers yellow monkey hoop skirts monkey monkey underpants amen
What the … ?
[really, it’s okay to laugh]
Realizing now would be a good time to invoke my own advice, I went to my bedroom and turned off the lights. I stretched out on the floor and took several slow and deliberate breaths. With my mind reeling like it was, it took an enormous act of the will to
I stayed that way for some time, concentrating on my breathing. I shoved away every intrusion that demanded I be conscious of the passing time and instead focused my energy on every single slow and intentional breath. Gradually, the mind and the pulse slowed. I felt my belly rise and thought of how the blood circulated through my body with every miracle of a heartbeat. I thought of the electrical signals coming from my brain, the rhythmic squeezing of the heart muscle, the valves in countless blood vessels opening and closing the way God designed them to open and close without our needing to will it. Slowly, my mind and my body intersected again. I allowed myself to move my body into a few remembered yoga postures and enjoyed the feeling of lengthening and stretching, of defying frenzy. I stayed in the darkness and simply breathed. When I finally left my room, I discovered I had been in there a full hour.
And now here I am, telling you all about it, telling you I actually succeeded employing my own advice. I will have to say no to some good things. Didn’t I say that? I really do love how things have taken off with blogging lately. I love visiting new blogs and having new visitors find my own. But with my fifty and sixty hour workweeks, attempting to maintain my health and my sanity, do something to develop my own writing, attempting to stay in communication with everyone, and finding the time to squeeze in some sleep and teeth-brushing, something’s gotta give. I trust that with my friends here, no apologies are necessary if I don’t wave my arm and interject myself into all the conversations and goings-on.
I am here breathing and doing my best to stay on the right side of insanity. If I don’t, there will be an increasing number of houseplant insights and many more instances of monkey monkey underpants.
Good night, dear friends. Know I hold you in my thoughts and in my heart and in my prayers. Much love to you all.
facing the day photo by kirsten.michelle